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The Top Three Things Parents Do To Sabotage Their Children. The Kids really pays the price
I have the belief that MOST parents want their children to be happy and live successful fulfilling lives. I also believe that MOST parents will do anything in their power to help their children grow into well rounded productive members of society. Unfortunately no one has written a book with the specific directions for caregivers to follow to ensure that they are doing the right things to help their child on their life's journey. As a result many parents mistakenly do things that aren't helpful for their children and may actually hurt them in the long run.
1. Giving your child what you wanted or needed instead of what they need
Past experiences can have a great influence on how a person handles future situations. When dealing with their children many parents reflect back on their own childhood and how similar situations were handled by their own parents. If the past experiences produced positive results-awesome. But what happens if those past experiences produced results that weren't positive and may have actually hurt the developing character of the new parent?
One of the biggest mistakes that any parent can make with their child is to try to make up for the shortcomings in their own childhood by giving their own child what they wanted or needed as a youngster. A classic example of this is the parent who grew up in a family where there wasn't much money available for non-necessities so they overindulge their own child with every new toy, game, fashion accessory, telephone, and computer accessory as soon as they come out on the market. If you ask these parents why they give their children so much the response you receive could well be that the parents don't want their child to feel left out or that they want them to fit in with the other kids-a feeling they themselves may have had when they were growing up.
I can absolutely say that as a parent I am guilty of this myself. I was the youngest of four girls in a family where both of my parents worked just to make ends meet. There wasn't money available for luxuries like new clothing and toys. My wardrobe consisted of hand me downs that my sisters had all grown out of and the bicycle I rode had previously belonged to all of my sisters as did the toys I played with. When I became a parent I absolutely never wanted my own children to be without anything. I didn't want them to ever have to re-wear clothing that someone else had worn, or reuse anyone else's toys. I thought that I was showing my children how special they were by overindulging them. Boy was I wrong. The only thing I succeeded in showing my children was that it wasn't important to take care of their things because Mom would always buy them new ones.
One of the most ridiculous examples of this was when I purchased an expensive designer purse for my adolescent daughter. Some of the girls in her school had one, of course I didn't want my daughter to feel left out so I spent hundreds of dollars to get one for her. She lost the purse within a month. Worse yet, she absolutely didn't care and had no problem asking me to buy her another one. She had no clue how much extra work I had done in order to get the money to buy the purse-and why should she? I had taught her that the importance lied in having the purse, not in the hard work it took to get the get it. I was supplying her with something I wanted growing up-fitting in with the cool crowd instead of giving her what she needed-a strong worth ethic and an understanding of the importance of taking care of what you have.
2. Living vicariously through your child
How many of you know someone who pushes their child to excel at sports, music, gymnastics, dance, academics, or other extra curricular activities? We have all seen the parents who find their own worth in the success or failure of their child, the ones who take their child's activity too seriously and will accept nothing less than first place. The ones who argue with officials and referees over calls that aren't made in their child's favor. The pageant parents who push their daughters to look and act a certain way at the expense of other children.
Living vicariously through children can have devastating and lasting effects on the psyche of the child. Young children naturally look to their parents for approval and for the assurance that they are valued. When a parent sends them the message that their only value is based upon success, it causes the child to become insecure which can lead to a lifetime of psychological problems. Being overly aggressive and demanding of success from a child will begin to foster resentment, both resentment for the activity and resentment for the parent. This resentment is compounded when the parents embarrass the child by acting inappropriately at events in which he/she is participating.
It is absolutely imperative that parents understand the warning signs that they are becoming too involved in their children's activities and may be living vicariously through them before it is too late and their child is permanently damaged. Some of the warning signs are: 1. Does the parent spend the majority of their time talking about or involved in the activity? 2. Does the parent say "we" when talking about the activity? An example would be, "We really need to practice more." 3. Does the parent get upset when the child doesn't come in first place when the child seems to take the loss in stride? 4. Is the parent verbally abusive to the child when the child doesn't meet their expectations.
3. Protecting your child from uncomfortable consequences
Consequences are a part of every day life. If you forget your umbrella and it starts to rain, you get wet. If you leave the cake in the oven too long, it burns. Consequences are a way of life and they teach you to become a responsible person. Unfortunately some parents believe that a consequence their child may receive from either doing something they shouldn't or not doing something they should have done is too severe and therefore want to protect their child from it.
A good example of this is when parents do their children's homework and school projects. Rather than allowing the child to receive a bad grade for not completing their assignments and learn the importance of being responsible, they do the work for them because they don't want their youngster to have to deal with consequences of failing. Unfortunately the only thing the parent winds up teaching is that it is ok to procrastinate and be irresponsible because someone will swoop in and pick up the slack.
Another example is when a child misbehaves or acts out, receives a consequence from someone other than the parent, and the parent rushes into to rescue the child and plead the case as to why their baby doesn't deserve the consequence. As I teacher I love to hear parents say, "My child would never do that." Unfortunately many parents won't accept the fact that their child is no angel and rather than try to understand why the child did what they did they attempt to lay blame on someone or something else. A classic phrase of this type of parent is, "Well what did so and so do to make my angel hit him?" My answer to that question always is, "It doesn't matter what caused him to act that way, the fact is he made a choice to act that way therefore he deserves the consequence."
Recently we had a field day at our school and a four year old from my friends class had such bad behavior his mother was told he was not allowed to participate in the activities. On the morning of the field day, mom showed up in my friends classroom, accused my friend of being a racist and not liking the boy, then followed her son around to each activity station and bullied the other teachers until he was allowed to play. What message did that mother teach her son that morning? That he could act whatever way he wanted to in class, not follow school rules and procedures, and not be held accountable for his actions. I guarantee that we will see this same mother and son in several years on the news after he is arrested and she will still be trying to blame someone else for his bad behavior. She needs to realize that she is not doing him any favors-our society operates by rules and laws and when you break them there are consequences. If parents don't teach their children this fundamental lesson then society eventually will. Our jails and prisons are filled with individuals who's parents uttered my favorite saying at one time or another, "My child would never do that."